Went to Hell Night at the East Coast Grill last night with some folks from work. It’s wonderful food, and they cook it with the hottest chiles and sauces that they can devise. Good stuff, that: it’s like a frat-boy challenge wrapped in a veneer of respectability. It’s a chance to get all up-close and personal with the Scoville Scale.
- Chile Russian Roulette: They bring a plate of chiles to the table. Everyone takes one, and eats it straight on the count of three. Poor Jeff got the hot chile, and discovered that it was not only hot, but didn’t taste very good. In retrospect, getting the Russian Roulette might have been a bad idea, because it rather dampened Jeff’s spirits. Or rather the 45 glasses of water that he drank in the 10 minutes following dampened his spirits. I’m pretty certain that my chile was the Chiltepin pepper, though it would have been nice if they told us.
- Buffalo Plantains: Fried plantains, served with a very hot buffalo sauce and a little, itty, bity bit of blue cheese. Hot, too be sure, but more than that really tasty. I’ve never had a buffalo plantain before (is that something that anyone else makes, ever?), but it’s tasty. The fruit is slightly sweet, the blue cheese is a little bit sharp, and the buffalo sauce manages to pull those flavors out. True, it pulls them out because you’re looking for any relief from the hot sauce; but it still brings them forward in a way that they wouldn’t be otherwise.
- Jerk Duck: Somehow the ECG folks managed to convince themselves that the jerk duck was worthy of 6 “bombs” in their pictoral rating system. But I’ve had hotter jerk. Much hotter jerk, when you get down to it. The carribean place that used to be over next to Mystery of Science, on Mass Ave in Cambridge, for example, and a couple of places that do carribean/cape verdean food over in Uphams Corner in Dorchester, all have a much hotter rub. That said, the duck was excellent. It’s easy to overcook, and they didn’t. It was very tender, and very yummy.
- Phuket-style Raw Tuna: Again, not as hot as it could have been, and not deserving of its bomb rating, but very, very yummy. This was another case where the heat actually did a nice job of setting off the other flavors. The raw tuna itself was very nicely prepared, and came to the foreground nicely.
- New Mexico Prison Chile: This was the only appetizer that I didn’t particularly enjoy. I had the sense that it would have been tasty, if I could have really tasted it. But it was so hot — almost gratuitously so — that actually tasting it wasn’t an option. Unlike the plantains and the tuna, there didn’t seem to be anything beneath the heat that benefited from the chiles.
- Pepper Steak with Amazon Salsa, sweet mashed potatoes, and another side that’s slipping my mind at the moment: The steak was wonderful. 16 ounces of the best beef I think I’ve ever personally encountered. Better than Capital Grille, better than Morton’s, and better than Gene and Georgetti. It was perfectly cooked, a beautiful medium-rare, and incredibly tasty. The pepper rub went well with the meat, and the salsa added that bit of chile heat on top that really brought the whole thing together. Truly excellent. The mashed potatoes were a little runny, unfortunately, and whatever the other side was it (clearly) didn’t really stand out in my mind. But the meat was good enough to make up for it.
- Pan-Seared Cajun-style salmon: I tried a couple of bites of Jeff’s, and thought it was quite tasty. Like the steak, wonderfully cooked, very juicy, and paired well with heat to bring out the underlying flavors.
The desert menu looked good, but we skipped it, and went to Christina’s instead. Not a bad choice, though I would have liked to try the Jamaican Banana Split. I made up for it with Rum Raisin ice cream. Yummy.